I’d like to tell you a tale of two hospitals. Both are committed to medical tourism and have built the infrastructure to manage foreign patients. Both are JCI accredited with equal reputations for medical excellence. Both invested in their web presence and committed an initial marketing budget of $2k to attract international patients.
One turned over $115,000, the other only $23,000 from the same investment. One is shutting down its International Patient Centre as they perceive “the market is not ready” – the other is doubling its investment and capacity due to their early success.
As you can see from the metrics above, the key differences between the hospitals are:-
i. Their ability to open a dialogue with an inbound patient inquiry
ii. Their ability to convert this dialogue into a confirmed patient
These two factors alone, with everything else being held equal, generated a 500% difference in revenue and marked the difference between the start of a successful program and a commercial failure.
At AllMedicalTourism.com, we believe this is where the competitive battle for the medical tourist will truly be waged, as quality of treatment and aftercare begins to standardize. To support our medical providers facing these challenges, we recently published a Marketing Masterclass to help achieve a minimum 10% conversion rate from Inquiry to Booked Patient – some are consistently enjoying conversions as high as 20% by applying these techniques.
The techniques are based on research from across our 100+ health care partners over the next two issues of the Medical Tourism Magazine, the whole report will be serialised.
Getting the Patient Inquiries in the First Place
Generating high volumes of qualified patient inquiries is relatively easy. The challenge starts when you need to convert these Inquiries to Patients. So let’s get started.
Planning your Communications Strategy
It is critical that you have a repeatable, yet personalised communications workflow for managing prospective patients. The key elements to this are:-
- A formal ‘inquiry workflow’ to manage inquiries and elicit a dialogue
- A ‘potential patient workflow’ to convert these dialogues into actual patients
- Resourcing for success
- Managing your email deliverability
Irrespective of your procedure mix or country of operation –the work flow outlined below has proven to generate outstanding conversion results. It will enable you to contact the patient very rapidly with a personalised email response, followed by a phone call on the same day of the inquiry. Communication from this point then continues with a follow up email offering a ‘value added offer’, an additional call and then a final email.
Use the following Communication Worksheet to plan your communications workflow.
StepActionTimeCommunication AssetsResponsible? Patient Inquiry via emailT-zero!NoneAllMedicalTourism1Initial email to patientIdeally within 30mins, no more than 2 hoursInitial email template[Insert name]2Call to patientSame dayCall script[Insert name]32nd email, with ‘value add’Next day/48 hours2nd email template[Insert name]4Final callWithin 4 daysCall script[Insert name]5Final emailWithin 10 daysFinal email template[Insert name]
Some healthcare providers expressed concern that this communication flow may be perceived by the patient as being too aggressive; too intrusive – or ‘not their style’. AllMedicalTourism’s research with patients has shown that their perception isn’t one of aggression, but of a high level of customer service, a rapid response to their needs and a good attention to detail. Once a dialogue is opened – your organization can think of itself as ‘shortlisted’ by the patient and you can change your stance to the ‘prospective patient process’.
Based on our market research, patients shortlist on average 2-3 healthcare providers for further consideration. Your first (and only) goal should therefore be to get onto this shortlist; don’t focus on winning the patient outright – this can come across as looking for a commitment from the patient prematurely. Respect that the patient is considering their options and focus on being ‘a good contender’.
The Initial Email Response
Communication Aim ~ Respond before the competition and still be personalised; get on patients’ ‘shortlist’, elicit a response, manage patient expectation about an imminent call.
Timings ~ Within 2 hours of receiving inquiry – preferably within 30 minutes.
Common Communication Errors ~ Requesting photos, poor English, generic copy, slow response time, images in email, no call to action, complex medical questionnaire, typos, seeking premature commitment from patient.
In the vast majority of cases, you will either be “in with a chance or out of consideration” based on this initial email communication. Our research has shown that, over 80% of patients decide who they will not be choosing from this first step, so the key aim is to be in for consideration.
We recommend that you develop a set of email templates to be able to manage these early stage communications and to ensure your response team is effective. It will enable you to handle a high volume of leads with minimal effort, only customising a small amount of the email itself.
Things to Remember:-
i. Respond quickly: within 30mins if possible. No later than 2 hours.
ii. Subject line: Relevant to source of the lead. If from AllMedicalTourism.com, include this and your company name in the subject line.
iii. Emphasise your speed: Say when you received their details to emphasis your speed of response/customer service.
iv. Confirm requirements: Quote back patients’ basic requirements from the lead details.
v. Confirm potential savings: Use www.AllMedicalTourism.com to calculate the potential savings on the procedure, in the patients own currency. Remember you are likely to be competing with the domestic route more than other medical tourism options initially.
vi. Be personal: Introduce yourself & our company. Keep it simple and brief.
vii. Clear web link: This is how most patients will qualify you as a potential option. Ensure your site is professionally designed, in good English and is ‘on message’.
viii. Explain how you are different: In clear bullet points, outline how and why you’re different to your competitors.
ix. Invite questions: They are likely to be curious – encourage this! Don’t suppress it with trying to push the patient toward ‘signing’ – acknowledge that at this stage, the patient is considering their options. Position yourself as happy to discuss the overseas treatment route impartially to engender trust and encourage dialogue…
x. Manage expectations: Confirm you’ll be calling them and when. Be as accurate as you can be and ensure you stick to it!
xi. Clear call to action: encourage the patient to take a single, clear action.
xii. Other re-arranged time: Even if they get back to you to say they can’t make that time, you’ve started the dialogue and positioned yourself as flexible to their needs.
xiii. Contact details: Only include relevant contact details for the patient. If you have multiple country phone numbers, only include the one which is relevant for the lead. Include Skype and offer ‘chat’ for quick questions.
xiv. Spam check it! Use a free tool like http://www.spamcheck.sitesell.com. Submit your intended email templates and it will highlight which words could cause problems with spam filters.
i. Requesting pictures: Specific to cosmetic procedures, requesting pictures of the intended surgery site in the first email is a sure way to scare away a patient. Patients provide pictures once an organization has been ‘shortlisted’ – not before. Focus initially on credentials, addressing patients’ concerns and fears and developing trust.
ii. Detailed data request: Detailed medical questionnaires, similar to requesting pictures, are completed once a healthcare provider has been shortlisted. Build a dialogue first and then ask for additional, detailed information, even if this means you can’t provide a detailed quote.
iii. Pictures in the email: Including pictures, especially pre and post surgery photos in an email are a sure way to get caught in spam filters. Instead of including in the email, include a link to the images on your site, if they are relevant.
iv. Generic email address: Ensure that the domain name you are sending your emails from is the same as your corporate brand. Sending emails from Gmail, AOL, Hotmail or any other ISP/web based email is a sure way to reduce credibility, reduce response rates, as well as increase likelihood of getting caught in spam filters.
v. Making your email too long: Remember the aim of the initial email response is to get onto the patients’ shortlist, not to secure the patient in a single hit! Make your email to the point.
Add links to your website, for further reading.
Rob Passmore is the CEO of AllMedicalTourism.com, which provides a highly qualified, high volume patient Inquiries to over 100 leading healthcare providers. AllMedicalTourism.com achieves this by offering patients a medical tourism search engine to start their research overseas. AllMedicalTourism.com provides patients with a starting point when considering a procedure overseas and offers healthcare providers a. To receive the full report or to ask any questions, please email Rob at rob.passmore@allmedicaltourism or +44 845 057 4039. Or see www.AllMedicalTOurism.com for further information.